The Secret Lives of Accountants: Average White DJ
Welcome to The Secret Lives of Accountants, where we reveal the always fascinating, often surprising, hidden passions of the profession’s finest!
In the first of the series, we chat with Richard Crafter, aka ‘Average White DJ’. By day, he’s a professional contract accountant who (shameless plug alert) has worked through Consult for five years running. By night, he’s a super-cool DJ with popular shows on George FM and Base FM.
SO RICHARD, TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY JOB.
I’m currently Contract Finance Manager for a US multinational. I’ve been contracting in New Zealand for about 5 years now, and prior to that I worked as a contractor in the UK for about 8 years.
I love contracting. I like the objectivity that comes with it and not having to buy into office politics; I get to kind of float above all that. I’d describe myself as a tour guide. A lot of the time, the changes that multinationals make aren’t communicated very well to offices in far-flung countries such as New Zealand. Local management often isn’t involved in the decision-making process, but they need to implement the changes on the ground. If the message isn’t very clearly communicated from the top, they might end up needing to hire someone who’s experienced working both at head office and in the regions.
A lot of my job is anticipating what the global business leads are likely to want, and getting the local business into a position to be able to deliver on that.
AND YOUR SECRET PASSION IS?
I’ve been DJ’ing for about 25 years. I started in the late 80’s and in 2000 went to the UK where I got the chance to play for some pretty big festivals. I thought that when I came back from the UK I’d probably give up, but I was helping out a mate-of-a-mate by filling in for him one night, and as luck would have it, the only person sitting at the bar was the programme director at Base FM, and that immediately got me back on to radio. These days I do two weekly shows on Base, and a weekly show on George FM. I also have a studio at home and I’ve got some pretty cool projects on the go at the moment.
HOW DO YOU FIT ALL THAT IN?
Music keeps me sane, so it’s just a matter of making time for it. I’ll be honest though, sometimes it’s a bit ridiculous. At the moment I feel like I get home from work, dump my laptop bag, pick up my record bag, head to a gig, go to bed, pick up the laptop bag, go to work…
I see music as the natural counterpoint to my work as an accountant, which is very process-driven. A lot of the work I did when I got back from the UK was around Sarbanes-Oxley; helping people to understand the spirit of the act, and shape their processes and structure accordingly. Music is a complete escape from that. I think it’s the last completely subjective, totally intangible forum we have. You can’t ever say that you understand music more or less than someone else, or that you enjoy it more or less. It’s completely up to you what you make of it. Music’s like the yin to the yang of my day job.
DO YOUR COLLEAGUES KNOW WHAT YOU GET UP TO OUT OF HOURS?
I tend to keep the two worlds separate, but it really depends on the business. One of the big failings I’ve seen in businesses is when the job becomes more about the person, rather than the work they’re doing. It becomes a risk, because stakeholders might have an emotional investment in what the person is saying. So I tend to go in as ‘Richard the Contract Accountant’. As time goes on, depending on the type of organisation, it can be helpful to reveal the person behind the contractor. But I’m quite tactical about whether I do that or not.
WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE DO YOU GET WHEN YOU DO TELL THEM?
Generally, they’re very surprised and often they wonder how I find the time. Usually my response is: I’m unmarried, my weekends aren’t spent carting the kids around the sports fields. Other people might be into V8s, or house renovations, or whatever – but I spend my downtime focussed on music.
DO YOU TELL THE PEOPLE YOU DJ WITH YOU’RE AN ACCOUNTANT BY DAY?
Absolutely. I’m an accountant first, DJ second – although 20 years ago I would have said it was the other way around!
Something that I find really entertaining about DJ’ing is how there’s kind of this cult of personality, when really what matters is the music. DJ’s can get a little precious, considering they’re predominantly playing music written by someone else. I’m a little peverse in that I do like to tell people in the music scene that I’m accountant. It doesn’t seem to matter really.
I think the weirdest aspect is playing at shows where nearly everyone I’m playing with is 20 years younger than me. I have no idea why anybody cares about what a middle aged accountant thinks is good music, but I’m not complaining!
IS THERE ANYTHING BEING A DJ HAS TAUGHT YOU ABOUT HOW TO BE A BETTER ACCOUNTANT?
Yes, actually. Essentially finance and DJ’ing are both about service delivery.
DJ’ing gives you a good idea about how to read people. Say you’ve been booked for a gig. You look at the bill and see the other act is the xyz’s. So you immediately make a snap judgement about what the audience is going to be into, and you prepare your set accordingly. But on the night, when it’s just you and the audience, you might have to reconsider based on the feel you’re getting from the crowd, and make adjustments – always aiming to bring everyone along with you.
It’s very similar to sitting around the board table in a results review meeting. People call out different points and you need to understand their motivations so you can meet that need without the meeting being railroaded into a side issue, to the detriment of everyone else. It’s about balancing the needs of individuals with the overall group, and recognising that at the end of the day, it’s not about you as a personality, but about your ability to provide a service.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ANYONE WANTING TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTOR?
Don’t take sides. If there’s a political game going on, and you buy into it instead of sticking to the agenda, you’ll end up dead in the water. Maintain your objectivity, remember why you’re there, keep it professional, and aim to work yourself out of a job as quickly as possible!
FINALLY, IF I WANTED TO TRY AND PRETEND I KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT DANCE MUSIC, WHAT NAMES SHOULD I BE DROPPING?
Seven Davis Jr and Om Unit are two of my favourites at the moment. And I’m picking the next big thing to hit the European summer this year will be Chicago Footwork crossing over with Old Jungle.
HMMM. NOT SURE HOW I’LL WORK THOSE INTO MY NEXT CONVO AT THE BAR, BUT I’LL GIVE IT A SHOT. THANKS FOR THE TIPS, AVERAGE WHITE DJ!
Check out Average White DJ’s shows:
Thursday 8-10pm and Saturday 4-6pm on Base FM
Sunday 6-8pm on George FM
Follow him on Twitter:averagewhitedj